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Do you need some help with the lead ropes?
The saddle mules are headed for turnout. Where do you think we are going, Spuds?
Looks like we’re headed for the hayfield, Augie!
Looks like you were right, Spuds!
Isn’t it beautiful, Augie?!
What is that big yellow thing, Augie?!
That’s Chad, Spuds…oh, you mean the swather?!
How do you do, Augie? Now smile for the picture!
How do you do, Spuds? Not so sure?
WOW! That big thing sure makes a lot of noise!
Now where are we going, Augie?!
These are some really deep windrows!
And some really tall grass is growing in the jump course, Augie!
Boy, I’ll say it’s tall, Spuds! I can’t see a thing! Where are we going?
Spuds, Augie, Are you guys into having a picnic out here?
You bet! This is really cool!
Smile for the camera, Boys!
We are very happy with you, Mini Momma, aren’t we Spuds?!
I wuv you, too, Mini Momma!
And I love you both! What a grand picnic!
Roll did exceptionally well today! He was also happy that he got to work out with his little buddies, Augie and Spuds. His body is beginning to get toned up again and he is starting to shed off his winter coat.
I did a quick pass with the hairbrush and then the vacuum cleaner. Last was Johnson’s Baby Oil in his mane and tail. I noticed right away during the grooming process that he was finally put weight on his right hind foot again.
On the way to the arena, I led Roll and Steve led Augie and Spuds.
Roll executed the gate perfectly as he always has. There is really something to be said for GATE TRAINING! With routine practice, they always know exactly what is expected and respond accordingly…no fussing at all.
Roll got his turn in the hourglass pattern first and did amazingly well while Augie and Spuds waited patiently at the fence.
I never had to physically move a foot with any tugs on the rope. He responded 100% to the verbal commands to correct his stance when he was in a full stop and fully weighted all four feet this time when he was asked to do so.
To fully weight the foot in the arena, he had to push the sand down. Sometimes I asked him to do it and sometimes I did not. With the ringbone and side bones in three feet, I really did not expect him to come back to full balance, but he did! What a great surprise!
After a halt on centerline, he followed me obediently to the fence with the lead rope slung over his neck.
When I went to retrieve him he was sideways to the fence, but he moved over so I could release him from the fence on my hand signal alone.
Roll executed the gate perfectly again on the way out…
…then we proceeded down the road and back to the Tack Barn. What a guy!!!
“This vacuum sure feel good, Spuds!”
“Yeah, Augie, but why is Roll here with us?”
“Not sure, Spuds, but she’s putting on our driving gear.
We haven’t done that in a very long time! Can you tell where we are going?””
“Not really! I can see underneath, but Roll still makes a better door than a window! Is he going with us?!”
“It looks more like we are going with HIM, Spuds!”
“Oh look, Spuds! It’s the hourglass pattern! It must be ground driving today!”
She just got done leading Roll through the pattern and now you get to ground drive the pattern. Why do I have to go last?!
“Because that’s just the way it is, Augie! Just stay cool and chill while we do this thing in sync. I love to see if she can match my tiny steps!”
“One…two…three…four. She’s doing pretty good, Augie!”
Finally, it’s MY turn now, Spuds…one…two…three…four!”
“You watch, Spuds! I’m putting my whole body into it”
“Apparently she liked it! That was really fun and EASY!”
“Ah Gee, Spuds, do we have to go back already!”
“I don’t know about you, Augie, but I’m ready for supper!”
“You’re always ready for supper. That’s why you are so PORTLY, PUDS!”
“It’s a beautiful Fall day, Augie! Where do you think we are we going this time?”
“Maybe I shouldn’t have asked!”
“It wasn’t really THAT bad, was it, Spuds?!”
“Hey, Spuds, come look in here! It’s pretty cool!”
“Has she finally lost her mind, Augie?! We can’t fit in there!”
“It’s okay Fellas! We aren’t really going to try to climb in there! I was just kidding!”
“Guess the joke was on us this time, eh Augie?…Hmmmm…what’s this?”
“THIS is a big ditch full of water with a floating culvert, Spuds!”
“Oh fun!…Another mountain! I’m get to go first this time, Augie!”
“Boy, are these guys BIG, Augie! They are all really nice though!”
“Oh good, we get to see even more of our BIG friends, Spuds!”
“Where are we headed now, Augie!”
“It looks like we have some gate-training going on here, Spuds!”
“Remember to stand quietly while she shuts the gate, Augie!”
“She’s really proud of this new bathroom they are building, Spuds, so be sure to seem interested so you don’t hurt her feelings!”
“Okay, I’m in Augie, but I am also ready to exit stage right!”
“Wait a second, You Guys, I have a rock in my shoe!”
“Wait, Spuds, Mom has a rock in her shoe!”
“Isn’t this a cool statue, Spuds?”
“Yeah, that one was cool, but this one is my favorite, Augie!”
“Hey, Spuds! This one is just our size!!!”
“More gate training and we’re home again! What a great time we had on such a gorgeous Fall day!
“Hey, Augie! The sign says, ‘Beware of the Ass,’ but I say, ‘Beware of the Ass Trainer!’ We might actually have to do some work!”
“It’s nice to have a “Header” to follow right out of the Tack barn! That way we can start out on the right “feet!”
“One, two, three, four…one, two, three, four…I wonder where we are headed today, Spuds?!”
“Oh, WOW! We get to go to the hayfield, Spuds. Wide open spaces are FUN!”
“Be sure to stay in sync, Spuds! One, two, three, four…one, two, three, four…”
“Gotcha, Augie! Boy is this grass GREEN!”
“Great halt, Spuds! Now remember we can’t move or we won’t get our oats reward!”
“Aah, what’s this, Augie!”
“It’s just a culvert so we don’t have to jump the water in the ditch anymore, Spuds!”
“This is A LOT easier, Augie!”
“I guess we’re headed for home now, Augie!”
“Another wonderful adventure, eh Spuds?! Maybe we really don’t have to ‘Beware of the Ass Trainer’ after all!”
“Hey, Augie! It sure is hot…great day for a bath don’t you think?”
“Well, Roll seems pretty pleased after his bath looking in the window at
himself like that! Who needs a mirror?!”
“Hey, Spuds! I found a gold mine of oats AND grass!!!”
“A little WET, but not too bad!”
“Oooooh! That water is kinda cold, Spuds! Shocking!!!”
“Don’t pout, Spuds! It isn’t THAT cold and she will be done with you
in a minute! Suck it up!”
“What’s up, Spuds? Eat your oats!”
“I can’t be BOUGHT, Augie!”
“No Spuds, but you could cut off your nose to spite your face!”
“Hey, Mom…come back! I want the oats now!”
“You’re lucky she came back, Spuds!”
“We are two REALLY LUCKY guys, Augie! She’s the best!”
“Hey Spuds, where are we going today? What’s that over there?”
“Oh, it’s just the barrels. I remember ground driving through these!”
“This is my favorite part of the lessons, Augie!”
“What the heck does she want now, Augie?”
“Okay, I get it now Augie!” That was easy!”
“Now what is she up to? I have to work by myself?!”
“Spuds, I just can’t back between the barrels. I can’t see where I’m going!”
“I’ll show you how, Augie! Forward around the barrels? No sweat!”
“Back around the barrels in a figure eight?! Easy as pie!”
“And the reward is always just heavenly!”
“Oh good…something I CAN do!”
“Wheee! Now this IS fun!”
“I’m not too sure about these steps, Augie!
“But jumping sure IS fun! I am so glad she made us pay attention to good posture during training!”
“It was another great adventure, eh Spuds?!”
“Yup, it sure was!”
“Hey Augie, what’s she want us to do today?!”
“I think she wants me to JUMP!”
“It’s a good thing the surface is rough enough to stop, Spuds!”
“I was afraid it wasn’t, so I got out of your way, Augie!”
“It IS a mounting block, but… I’m not sure you can hold me!”
“I think not, so I’ll just jump down… and be careful not to clip your head!”
“I’m not sure I can do this as well as you did, Augie!!!”
“Can you at least TRY, Spuds?!”
“Okay Augie, I’ll try!”
“Are you okay, Spuds?”
“That was some kinda sliding stop, Spuds!!!”
“Thanks a lot, Augie! I’m getting down now!”
“Hey Spuds, watch out!!!”
“Is it time for oats now?!!!!”
“She would NEVER forget the oats if we do what she asks, Spuds!
“Is that why you usually get more than me, Augie?!”
“Roll’s hogging the washrack, Augie! How are we supposed to fit?”
“Is this better, Spuds?” “I suppose so, Augie…as long as he keeps his distance!”
“Hey, Spuds, how’s it feel?”
“It’s so hot, this feels GREAT, Augie!!!”
“Oh yeah, Spuds, this is great…nice cool water!”
“Uh, excuse me, is anyone listening? BIG FOOT here is getting a little too close again!”
“Oh good! Thanks, Mom!”
“Just you wait, Spuds!”
“Hey, Augie! Did he just threaten me?”
“Naw, he’s just kidding, Spuds.”
“Are ya sure, Augie?”
“Yeah, I’m sure. We’re all too COOL to behave badly!”
“Hey, Augie! Where are we going today?”
“Isn’t there a better way to go than up the steps?”
“Really Augie, do you always have to be so cooperative?”
“Okay, what’s up now?”
“Oats are always good!”
“Are you kidding me? You really think that book will help?”
“Augie, do you always have to be such a show-off?”
“If you took the time to study, Spuds, things might be a lot easier for you!”
“Maybe you’re right, Augie!”
“I like how the book says we’re different, Augie. The family that grazes together, stays together!”
“Ooh La La! Isn’t SHE lovely? Augie, check HER out! Nice socks, Honey!”
“She doesn’t look all that impressed with you, Spuds!”
“Maybe she’ll like ME better! She really IS kinda cute!”
“Hmmm! Stealin’ my action eh, Augie?! Well, she doesn’t look all that impressed with you either!
“Let’s just play hard to get and maybe she will change her tune, Spuds!”
“I guess two can play that game, Augie…now she’s pretending she’s asleep!”
“But she IS so cute, Spuds!”
“WOMEN! You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them, so what’s a guy to do?!”
“Where’d they go?!!!”
“What’s up today, Augie?” “Not a clue, Spuds, but it’s not the carriage.”
“Whoa!” What’s this, Augie?” “Spuds, quit runnin’ into me! I can’t see it!”
“REALLY, Spuds?!” Quit being so dramatic…it’s just the tarp!”
“Okay! I get it. You want me to lead this time!”
“Hey, Spuds! We’re playing follow the leader and I get to be the leader!”
“It’s no sweat, Spuds!”
“Hmmmm…there’s grass in here!”
“Uh, do we really have to stop right here?!”
“We’re working on core strength, Augie!”
“…and then again here?” “Hey Augie, pretty slick move! (I hope I don’t have to do that!)”
“Uh, oh, Augie! It’s my turn!”
“This is a cinch, Augie!”
“Darn! We’re back to the tarp again…HELP, Augie!”
“Don’t worry, Spuds! I’ll show you how to do it.”
“This isn’t so bad, I guess!”
“You’re right, Augie! That was pretty easy and lots of fun after all!”
“It’s even more fun when we do it TOGETHER!”
“Here we go again, Spuds, but something feels really different and strange.”
“Did you say strange, Augie? Well, I’m outta here!”
“I think she said “Whoa,” Spuds!
“Whew! I’m glad she switched the lines back BEHIND the terrets instead of in front of them!
It was putting a kink in my neck, Spuds!”
“Me, too, Augie! Besides, I like it much better when I can really FEEL her hands.”
“I’m sure glad she took the time to review ground driving before hitching us up again!”
“Okay Spuds, now let’s get lined up straight for her!”
“No problem, Augie!”
“Hey Augie, I recognize this! It’s the hourglass pattern we’ve been ground driving for
the past few months!”
“Are Sean and Steve in sync with us, Spuds?” “They sure are, Augie!”
“Get ready, Spuds, we’re gonna WHOA!”
“And we’re off again, Augie!” One…two…three…four…”
“Yup Spuds, I’m really glad she decided to go ahead and cross the lines BEHIND the terrets even though she said it was ‘against the rules’!”
“Hmmm, this grass looks pretty tasty, Augie!”
“Whew! What a long workout for twenty minutes!…I’m tired, Augie!” “Me, too, Spuds!”
“Hey Spuds, how about next time you pull and I push like Sean and Steve are doing?!”
“Not a chance, Augie!”
NOTE from Meredith: Equines are always honest in their reactions to training. When things go wrong, it is always the handler’s fault. Everything I have learned about driving said that when driving a team, put simply, you should thread the inside lines through the terrets of the opposite equine making the lines cross in an “X” just in front of the terrets. With my larger equines, this never really posed a problem…until I tried it with Augie and Spuds.
I had always ground driven Augie and Spuds single and then together as a team with their lines going directly from their mouths through their terrets on their harness saddles and to my respective hands. I could then clearly feel the connection from my hands to their lips holding all four lines. This never posed a problem until I decided that maybe I should thread the lines in the more conventional way with the lines crossed in front of and running through the opposing equine’s terrets. It worked fine until they got uneven. When I said “Whoa” and pulled back on the lines, the inside lines acted like “drawreins” with too much leverage for their short little necks. The only direct and light contact I had was on the nearside (left) and offside (right) lines of the team. When they could no longer feel the even contact on both sides of their mouths, they both bolted as shown in the picture above. I immediately changed the lines back to their original position with the lines crossing into my hands BEHIND the terrets instead of in front of the terrets. I could then feel the connection on both sides again and so could they. The result was immediate compliance! We were again “connected!”
When using split lines, the draft lines go from the nearside bit ring of the near side equine and the offside bit ring of the offside equine direct to the driver. A series of holes in the coupling lines allow for adjustment. The nearside coupling line passes through the inside terret of the nearside equine and across to the bit ring of the offside equine and vice versa. To avoid any confusion for the equines, I think it is important to train with two sets of lines in the beginning, until they are clearly aware of their job and actually can feel the connection to your hands. I would not advise split lines for beginning training. The connection from your hands to their mouths is too loose and it is hard for them to understand your intent, especially in the case of miniatures since the distance from their mouth to the terrets is so short and the action on the lines can be so severe. Once proficient with four lines, they can then “graduate” to split lines for your convenience.
“What do you suppose we’re doing today down here in the dressage arena…hmmmm?!”
“Whatever it is, Spuds, I get to go first!!”
“Hey, Spuds, this is really easy and lots of fun!”
“Look Spuds, I finally learned the rein back!”
“And…I did it perfectly!”
“Your turn now, Spuds!”
“Like you said, Augie, this is a breeze!”
“Can we trot yet?”
“Now we get to do the hourglass pattern together, Spuds! Whoohoo! What fun!”
“Don’t forget to stay in sync, Augie! One…two…three…four!”
“And Whoa! Good job, Augie! Good job, Spuds!”
“It’s okay Augie! Just take it one small step at a time. She’ll wait for us!”
“Not a bad lesson, Spuds!”
“Augie, don’t you know that we’re the BEST?!”
“Hi, Spuds, Hi, Augie! Fancy meeting you here!”
“Hey, Roll! Why are ya all wet?”
“You’ll see soon enough!”
“Uh, hey you guys, I’m over here! Oats, please?!
“Hey, Spuds, where’d she go?”
“She’s giving Roll some oats. You know she never plays favorites, Augie!”
“Oh, no, it’s bath time again!”
“So soon? It’s already been a year, Augie!”
“If I can just bury my head into the fanny pack…”
“Augie, maybe if I get into the act she’ll do us both at once and we’ll get done quicker!”
“I’m not sure this is such a good idea, Augie!”
“You okay, Spuds?”
“Look at it this way, Spuds…you’re almost done!”
“And now I AM done, Augie! Am I ever.”
“Hey, Roll! Why don’t YOU have to dry on the hotwalker?”
“Because he’s bigger? What kind of an answer was that, Augie!”
“Because he IS bigger, Spuds! Need he say more?”
“Hey, we haven’t seen you guys in a while! How have you been?! We get to go for another adventure with Meredith today!”
“What do you suppose she has in mind for us today, Spuds?”
“I don’t know, Augie, but we’ll find out soon enough! Let’s just stand still while she gets the gate…just like we always do!”
“Going through the gate is always easier when you do it the same way every time!”
“Uh, what’s this, Spuds? I’ve seen this somewhere else before…oh, yeah, in the round pen! This should be easier to pull with more room to move!”
“It’s just as I thought, Spuds…no sweat! It’s the same as we did in the round pen, only we can pull in long straight lines now! It’ll be your turn in a few minutes…I just have to finish the hourglass pattern.”
“You were right, Augie! This is actually easier than the round pen and it’s nice to have the “elbow pull” to remind me not to lift my head too high and to pull from my hindquarters…it’s just like people have to lift with their legs and not with their backs!”
“And when you do, Augie, it’s easy to halt in perfect posture!”
“When we’re both taught exactly the same way, teamwork is a cinch!”
“When you have strength in good balance, even lateral moves, done as a team, are easy and fun…shall we dance?!!”
“Don’t be silly, Spuds, we’re working not dancing, so pull your share! She’ll tap you on your rear if you don’t keep up!”
“You boys are the very best!!!
“Aren’t we though?!”
“Confidence is a good thing, too, huh, Augie?!
“Yeah, Spuds, as long as you learn good manners with it!”
Mini donkeys Spuds and Augie are always up for a new challenge–like adding a new element to their round pen workout routine!
“Hey, Spuds! What do you think she has in mind to do today with all these straps?”
“Oomph! She told me to go forward just like we did before, but something is holding me back…oh, now it is coming behind me! What’s happening?!”
“You’re attached to a tire! Here, follow me!”
“Oh boy, now it’s my turn, Augie!”
“Don’t worry, Spuds. I’m right behind you…this tire’s not that scary.”
“Excuse me, Spuds! I had to stop to pee. Just go ahead and pass me and I’ll catch up to you when I’m done!”
“That was really easy, but now what is she doing, Augie?”
There’s a lot of construction going on at the ranch, but Spuds and Augie sense the opportunity for adventure!
It’s summer time, and there are tons of adventures to be had for two mini donkeys on a bustling ranch like Lucky Three. Today, Spuds and Augie explore the hay field with Meredith and test their bravery against a fearsome, loud machine.
She’s kinda silly, Augie. Who ever heard of saying “how do you do” to a swather, Augie?
“Hey, Augie…watcha doin’?!
“I’m practicing my halter stance…you know, four-square!”